Tag Archives: travel

Alien Life Forms

As aliens, unless we’re married to Japanese or have a permanent visa, life in Japan means getting, changing or renewing our visas from time to time. As the form-filling-out requirements aren’t necessarily consistent, and they unfortunately can’t tell you on the spot whether you need to submit more documents, the process may involve multiple trips to the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau (mailing is sometimes an option, but you risk missing strict deadlines if something gets held up in transit; Better safe than sorry).

Also, as the Ministry of Justice has done away with the alien registration card system, everyone will have to pick up a new resident card at the Bureau office to replace the temporary paper issued last year by your local city hall. And don’t forget to get a re-entry permit there before you leave Japan to travel – without one, your visa expires as soon as you leave. When you come back, you’ll just be a tourist on a three month permit with no right to work or study.* Anyway, it pays to know the way to the Bureau.


From Tajimi or Toki, take the Chuo Line to Nagoya Station. Exiting through the central wickets, there’s no option, as far as I know, but to walk all the way to the west exit of the station, and then, staying inside the station, walk southward as far as you can until you get to the Aonami Line entrance toward the left.

Buy a separate ticket for ¥260 to Nagoya Keibajomae Station. Trains run about every 15 minutes. There are signs leading you to the immigration center from Keibajomae Station.

When you enter the building, there’s a general help center on the first floor to make sure your papers are in order. The main offices are on the second floor. Take a number (most likely on the right) and wait.


On a recent trip there, I stopped at the Nagoya Station Towers, noticing that the haze made Nagoya Castle stand out (normally from there, I think it’s hard to pick out immediately). Other people took note, as well.

*Update: One benefit of the new system: In most cases, foreign residents won’t have to get re-entry permits anymore. You will have to notify Immigration any time between visa renewals (extensions) that you move or change jobs, which is different from before.

Wrapping Things Up

As soon as Christmas is past (I saw storeowners taking down storefront Christmas trees and decorations Christmas afternoon), traditional New Year’s decorations waste no time filling up premium store space as people rush to stock up on basic necessities, and generally wrap up affairs in anticipation of everything shutting down for the start of the year. Adding to the traffic, they say with the calendar giving a longer vacation this year, the number of travellers, especially to Europe and North America, has increased.

Below, the owner of a typical local family ceramics business does some ōsōji, cleaning every last corner, equivalent to spring cleaning in the west.


In this mass ritual cleansing, it seems no home, office or car (save the dishes in my kitchen sink) goes untouched. As far as the car washes, at least early on this time, they didn’t seem to be as flooded as usual.


Besides the private social obligations of New Year’s cards, otoshidama cash gifts to nieces and nephews, and gifts of salad oil, soap, beer and any number of other decided-upon items, another end-of-the-year custom is businesses offering little giveaways to customers, like this shampoo brush from my barber.


Hair’s to a growing, flowing 2013 for you, too. I’m just sorry to say, no amount of decorating, cleaning, wrapping or throwing away can completely get rid of tired jokes and oyaji gyagudom.

Update: As I pulled out of my parking space to go to work this morning, Sunday, I was chagrined to see blue Toki trash bags piled where they’d normally be tomorrow morning. If I’m lucky, everyone was just setting them out early. More likely I missed the memo and, in a perfect storm of
sanitation slip-ups, all told will end up having gone two weeks without putting it out. Guess whose veranda will be decorated cerulean blue this new year? It pays to save those calendars with those kinds of dates that they hand out at the end of the (read: last) year. Maybe it got thrown out in an ōsōji.